By Rhea Cartwright
n a bold move, not only is luxury fashion retailer Flannels entering into the highly competitive beauty category, it is also hoping to transform the bricks and mortar beauty shopping experience by taking its efforts out of London.
Launching today in Sheffield Meadowhall, followed by Leicester and Liverpool later on this year, Flannels has identified that a London-centric beauty industry is ignoring a large number of consumers with an insatiable beauty appetite but limited retail options.
“Our initial beauty research showed that there’s been a definite shift in the profiles of people shopping for luxury beauty, but that current beauty retailers have not adapted to meet the needs and appeal to a newly multicultural, dynamic, fluid and diverse customer,” says Michael Murray, Group Head of Elevation. “With our strategy of regional expansion, we are already one of the key players focussed on rebuilding the UK high street, which is where Flannels began – and we have no doubt these regional beauty flagships will excel.”
Recognising that there is an underserved regional luxury beauty consumer, it is a strategic move that has already worked well for heritage retailer Harrods, with their standalone beauty concept stores H-Beauty which have opened in Essex and Milton Keynes with confirmed plans for Bristol, Newcastle and Edinburgh in the next 12 months.
Where Flannels excels in comparison to its luxury competitors, is in its continued efforts in understanding today’s modern culture. While other retailers perhaps focused too heavily on international consumers or the traditional idea of a luxury shopper, the Flannels tone of voice, buying edits and marketing campaigns remain effortlessly relevant and speak to a generation of luxury consumers who know exactly what they want.
To further cement their mission of a hyper-inclusive approach, they have recruited four of the UK’s leading beauty authorities. Among the ambassadors are celebrity makeup artist Nikki Wolff, fashion influencer Victoria Magrath aka @Inthefrow, Scottish beauty pro and creator Jamie Genevieve and universal tastemaker Melissa’s Wardrobe who is renowned for being one of the most influential creators.
While beauty commerce swung heavily online at the height of the pandemic, their shop-floor experience is an essential part of the strategy. Stores will debut the world’s first beauty changing rooms which are private spaces to test and trial products without the pressure and gaze of retail staff. The Beauty Bar will also allow leading local beauty services professionals to “hot desk” their services within a luxury environment. Nail technicians will lead the Sheffield launch thanks to the area's thriving nail art scene, and the continued evolution will be based on the demands of each region.
Alongside steadfast cult classic brands such as Tom Ford, Indie Lee and Le Labo, Flannels has also secured the bricks and mortar exclusivity of makeup brands Jouer and Patrick Ta. The Sheffield store will be the only UK physical location to test, swatch and play with the coveted brands.
For Flannels and Murray, the opening of their flagships in Sheffield, Leicester and Liverpool “boldly marks our commitment to investing in retail and bringing to life our significant strategy across the UK whilst delivering a world-class experience to key cities and consumers, many for the first time.”
As for its success, it’s a move that I anticipate will payoff. With the ever-increasing reach of social media, trends are transcending the traditional fashion and beauty hubs that people once flocked to and FLANNELS has recognised that regional communities are welcoming much-needed additions to the otherwise stale UK high-street.
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Flannels is banking on beauty to help strengthen its position as a luxury power player.
By Rhea Cartwright